Exam Preparation and FAQs

Preparing for Your Red Seal Certification Exam (Misc Info + Calculators) Preparing for Your Red Seal Certification Exam (Misc Info + Calculators)

 1. General Information about the Red Seal Exam

The Red Seal exam is a nationally-recognized certification exam in Canada, and is the certification exam for most trades. Red Seal exams are trade-specific theory exams which are available in both English and French. They contain between 100 and 150 multiple-choice questions, with an average exam containing 125. Each question has four responses, only one of which is correct. A maximum of four hours is provided to complete the exam. The passing grade is 70%.

 2. Preparing for the Red Seal Exam

 PART A: Using the National Occupational Analysis 📹 VIDEO

National Occupational Analyses (NOAs) are available for all Red Seal trades, and provide the content upon which Red Seal exam questions are based. The NOA for your trade is the most important resource, and a great tool to help you plan what and how to study for your exam. Follow the steps below to prepare for your exam.

  1. Go to the Red Seal website and click on Trades in the main menu at the top, then click on Red Seal Trades.
  2. Select your trade from the list. This will open a page that contains a number of links - click on About the Trade. This will take you to the Trade National Occupational Analysis (NOA) page.
  3. On the Trade National Occupational Analysis (NOA) page, click “Click here to order a print version of this Occupational Analysis”. This will open the Red Seal Trades page for your trade. Scroll down the page, where you will find:
    • a link to the National Occupational Analysis (NOA) that the exam is based on
    • a link to the Exam Counselling Sheet for the trade, which provides the percentage of questions for each topic area on the exam
  4. Click on the National Occupational Analysis (NOA) link (html or pdf). Review Appendix F, Task Profile Chart. This can be used as a self-assessment tool to help you compare what you know with what will be tested. It is found at the back of the NOA and is a simple visual tool that outlines the scope of the trade as practiced in Canada. The chart is organized into major content areas called BLOCKS. These BLOCKS are divided into TASKS. TASKS are divided into SUB-TASKS. The questions that appear on the Red Seal exam are based on the SUB-TASKS. Begin your self-assessment by reviewing each SUBTASK in the task profile chart. For more detailed information, read the full description for that SUB-TASK in the NOA to ensure that you understand the knowledge and skills required to perform it competently. On the task profile chart, place a check mark beside the SUB-TASKS you fully understand. Highlight and place a (?) beside SUB-TASKS you are less familiar with. Note: Don’t review the SUB-TASKS that are (NOT COMMON CORE), as there will be NO questions about these on the exam.

    Appendix F

  5. Review Appendix E, Pie Chart. The Pie Chart provides the percentage of exam questions assigned to each BLOCK of the NOA. In the example chart below, BLOCK A represents 17% of the exam content, which means that 17% of the exam questions are from BLOCK A. As noted earlier, the exam questions are actually based on the SUB-TASKS.
  6. Review Appendix A, Tools and Equipment. This appendix provides a list of the tools and equipment used in the trade. You should be familiar with the names, operation and maintenance of the tools and equipment listed here.
  7. Review Appendix B, Glossary. This appendix provides definitions and explanations of selected technical terms used in the trade.
  8. Review Appendix C, Acronyms. This appendix provides the common acronyms used in the trade.

 PART B: Getting Ready for the Exam 📹 VIDEO

After you have completed the steps noted in Part A above, you should have a better idea of the areas that you need to study for the Red Seal exam. A study plan will allow you to make the most of the time you have to prepare, and give you an opportunity to review all of the topics that are on the exam, particularly those you need to focus on the most.

To create your study plan, you can use the self-assessment exercise you completed in Part A, Step 4. This exercise identified the SUB-TASKS you need to focus on and spend the most time studying.

Next, determine where you will study and establish a regular routine. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. It may be helpful to study for short periods of time over a long time frame, as this can be more effective for retaining information than studying for a long period in one session. Be sure that your family and friends understand what you are doing and ask them not to disturb you during study times.

 3. Apprentices: Your logbook needs to be signed-off before you write your Red Seal Exam!

Logbook Sample The Trade Skills (or Practical Skills) section of your Apprentice Logbook must be complete, with all mandatory skills signed-off, before you can write your Red Seal Exam. For a sample of how to complete the Trades Skills section, please click HERE.

 4. General Information about the Calculators the Agency Provides at Exam Sittings

At exam sittings, the Agency supplies items that you need for your exam, including pencils, scrap paper, code books (if applicable) and calculators - model Casio FX-260. Personal calculators, cell phones and all other electronic devices will not be permitted in the exam room. The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency will not be responsible for the loss of these items - clients leaving calculators, cell phones, etc. do so at their own risk.

Casio Calculator
Exam Counseling Sheets and Occupational Analyses Exam Counseling Sheets and Occupational Analyses

 1. Red Seal Certification Exams

 Red Seal Exam Counseling Sheets (on the Red Seal website). Find your trade in the list and click on the link. You will be taken to a page that contains the trade's Exam Counseling Sheet, which provides the following:

  • The percentage of questions for each topic area on the exam
  • A copy of the applicable National Occupational Analysis (NOA)
  • Sample multiple-choice questions for the trade

 2. Level and Provincial Certification Exams

 Level and Provincial Certification Exam Counseling Sheets. Click on your trade/level in the table of contents. You will be taken to a page that contains the applicable Exam Counseling Sheet, which provides the following:

  • The percentage of questions for each topic area on the exam

Provincial Occupational Analyses (POAs)* are available for the following trades:

  • Alarm and Security Technician
  • Automotive Glass Technician
  • Blaster
  • Marine Service Technician

*POAs describe the skills and knowledge needed to perform competently in the trades. They are the base documents used to develop Provincial Certification exams, and may also be used as a checklist to guide your studies.

Study Materials and Resources (Includes Trade-specific Courses and Practice Exams) Study Materials and Resources (Includes Trade-specific Courses and Practice Exams)

Here are links to resources, practice exams and sample questions that may help you prepare to write your exam.  The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency neither endorses nor recommends the use of these materials. They are provided merely as a guide to known available resources:

Tips for Writing Multiple-Choice Exams Tips for Writing Multiple-Choice Exams
  • Read each question carefully and completely. Do not assume you know what the question is asking after you’ve read only part of it.
  • Separate long questions into smaller parts to make them easier to understand.
  • Try to answer the question without looking at the four responses, then look for the option that matches your answer.
  • As you read through the alternative options, make a note of those you know are wrong, in order to narrow your options.
  • If you are answering a question that involves calculation, it is useful to have an estimate of what the correct answer is so that once you calculate the answer, you can decide whether it seems right.
  • Draw a diagram or jot down a formula if it helps answer a question.
  • If you don’t know the answer, move on and come back later. It’s better to finish the easier questions first and come back to the more difficult ones later.
  • Manage your time - it might be helpful to determine how much time you have for each question. For instance, if the exam has 120 questions and the maximum sit time for the exam is 4 hours, then you have approximately 2 minutes per question. At the halfway point of the exam, determine if you have completed approximately half of the exam, and adjust your pace accordingly.
  • Answer all questions, even if you have to guess (you have at least a 25% chance of guessing correctly). Do not leave any question unanswered.
FAQs about Apprenticeship Exams FAQs about Apprenticeship Exams

 1. What is a level exam?

Some apprenticeship trades require apprentices to write and pass a mandatory ‘level’ exam at the completion of their technical training before progressing to the next level of training. There is no fee for these exams and usually apprentices write at regularly scheduled exam sessions. If you are uncertain if your trade requires mandatory level exams, speak to your Training Consultant (or review the training sessions offered for your trade in the training schedule). Click HERE for more information about level exams.

 2. What is a certification exam?

Upon completion of the apprenticeship program (including on-the-job hours, technical training and competency in workplace practical skills), apprentices are eligible to write a certification exam. If the apprentice receives a mark of 70% or greater, they receive both a Certificate of Qualification and a Certificate of Apprenticeship and become a certified journeyperson. If the trade is a Red Seal trade, the certification exam is a Red Seal exam. If an apprentice receives a passing mark, they will receive the Red Seal endorsement on their Certificate of Qualification. This endorsement is a recognized standard in jurisdictions across Canada, one that employers look for as an indication of skills and competency.

Note: If you have significant experience working hands-on in a trade and can prove that your skills & work experience meet the standards set for a certified skilled tradesperson in Nova Scotia, you may be able to apply under the Trade Qualifier Program for approval to write the certification exam. Click HERE for more information.

 3. Are you eligible to write an exam?

You must contact the Apprenticeship Industry Training Consultant in your trade/region to determine your eligibility to write a certification or level exam. Once your eligibility has been confirmed, you will be asked to submit an exam application indicating a ‘preferred’ exam date and location (a listing of all exam sessions is included in the Exam Schedule).

 4. How do you apply to write an exam?

If you are eligible to write, please ensure you review the guidelines on the bottom of your exam application. Your application, along with the applicable fee, must be received at the Halifax Office of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency prior to the “apply before” date indicated for the requested exam session. Applications received after the application deadline will be processed for the next available exam sitting.

A confirmation letter will be sent to you 10 days prior to the exam date. Do not attend an exam sitting without this written confirmation.

 5. What happens when you write an exam and are unsuccessful?

Try not to be discouraged! Certification exams are very challenging, but use what you learned from your previous experience to help prepare for your next attempt. Everyone who challenges an exam receives a breakdown of the results they achieved in each section of the exam. Use the breakdown to identify areas where additional study will help you prepare for your next attempt.

Re-write the exam as soon as you feel confident you will pass - don’t postpone it for a lengthy period of time. You will need to obtain another exam application and pay the exam fee prior to the application deadline, which is approximately 1 month before the desired exam sitting date.

If you have unsuccessfully challenged an exam on two or more occassions, you are required to contact your Training Consultant to discuss completion of additional technical training.

 6. What happens if you cannot write the exam on your scheduled date?

If you are unable to write the exam on your scheduled exam date, you must notify the Agency as soon as possible. Contact your Training Consultant, or telephone the Halifax Office at (902) 424-5651 (or toll free in Nova Scotia at 1-800-494-5651). An exam may be rescheduled only once without penalty. If you fail to provide notice of withdrawal at least 24 hours in advance, you will be considered a no-show and your exam fee will not be refunded.

 7. In addition to calculators, what does the Agency supply at the exam sitting?

At exam sittings, the Agency supplies items that you need for your exam, including pencils, scrap paper, code books (if applicable) and calculators - model Casio FX-260. Personal calculators, cell phones and all other electronic devices will not be permitted in the exam room. The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency will not be responsible for the loss of these items - clients leaving calculators, cell phones, etc. do so at their own risk.

Casio Calculator

 8. What should you bring to the exam sitting?

  • Your confirmation letter
  • Your photo ID (e.g. driver's license, passport, apprenticeship ID card)
  • A watch so that you can pace yourself
  • Do not bring any electronic devices, including cell phones and calculators, to the exam sitting. All personal items (backpacks, bags, code books, text books, etc.) are also not permitted in the examination room. The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency will not be responsible for the loss of these items - clients leaving cell phones, calculators, back packs, etc. do so at their own risk and clients are requested to not bring these items.

The Agency provides everything else you need for your exam, including pencils, calculators, scrap paper and code books (if applicable).

 You should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the exam.

 9. When will you find out if you passed?

Exam results will be mailed to clients within 5 working days of the exam sitting.

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